- At one time you became the first person who accurately performed a quadruple jump at competitions. In complex-technical sports, a round of complexity usually occurs when the equipment changes dramatically, but in figure skating there did not seem to be any big changes in this regard. Why, then, to make a quadruple sheepskin coat in the 90s was considered heroism, and now, on the same ice and the same skates, athletes began to jump quadruple lutz, flips, loops?

Let me disagree with you a little. I jumped the quad toe loop in 1990, which was 32 years ago. And if we talk about the inventory, it just changed a lot. Not so long ago, even I was talking about this with my students. I ask: guys, how do you manage to break your shoes like that after riding them for several months? We once skated on WIFA boots, which now, probably, none of the skaters use at all. They were terrible, in fact, absolutely wooden. Alexey Nikolaevich Mishin called them "Spanish boots". It was impossible to bend.

These boots had to be rolled out for at least two weeks.

My grandfather, God rest him, constantly strengthened something in these boots, additionally glued it with leather from the inside, so that it would be more convenient for me to ride.

Today people put on new boots and the next day they are able to perform all the triple jumps on them.

That is, they do not even need to be rolled out, they are immediately ready for work.

And the assortment has become much larger than 30 years ago - each athlete can choose the block that suits him.

Plus, professionalism has grown.

- Coaches or athletes?

- There are certainly more specialists in figure skating in the world.

Many additionally studied at seminars, at some master classes, that is, in this sense, there was also a movement forward, thanks to which the athletes improved their technique.

And the quad toe loop in men's singles is now not an ultra-c element at all.

- Your first Olympics happened in 1992 in Albertville, where you finished fifth.

Do you think that if you had not had those Games in your life, you would have been able to perform so successfully at the second?

In other words, did the experience of Albertville come in handy in Lillehammer?

I don't think he played any significant role.

“I’m getting to this: The Lillehammer Games were held just two years later, and there were many skaters in the men’s tournament whose chances for a gold medal seemed much more obvious than yours. Do you admit that a similar story could be repeated in Beijing? What, relatively speaking, will be able to “shoot” the conditional Mark Kondratyuk, whom no one now takes into account?

First of all, thank you very much for your question.

It is complex, but very correct.

I often say that there are quite a few tournaments in figure skating: challengers, Grand Prix, European, world, four continents championships.

But there are the Olympic Games.

It's a completely different competition.

And the absolute truth is that they put tremendous pressure on some athletes.

There are very cool, professional people who simply cannot win medals at the Olympics.

It's just not their competition.

— I agree.

- Therefore, I believe that anything is possible at the Olympics.

The same Kondratyuk impresses me very much, especially this season.

I saw this boy not only at the European Championships, but also at other competitions.

For example, at the Denis Ten Memorial.

He struck me.

- What exactly?

- I noticed that, even working in the hall on the floor, Mark absolutely understands how to prepare himself for the performance.

When you look at him from the side, one gets the feeling that the guy is generally sleeping.

But a person goes out on the ice - and you understand that there is no question of any hibernation.

As the two-time Olympic champion Artur Dmitriev likes to say, perhaps in this way the athlete simply saves magical energy.

I will be very worried about Mark at the Olympics.

But here, as we say, you need to do your job, and then see how others will cope with it.

- As a person who once broke through the boundaries of complexity, do you understand the desire of two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu to jump the quadruple axel at all costs, risking serious injury and missing the Olympics altogether?

Is he crazy or is there a great idea in this?

- Probably, every person at the highest level of sports is a little crazy.

Zhenya Plushenko, if you remember, dreamed of doing all five quadruple jumps in one program.

But this did not happen.

I don't think it will happen to Yuzuru either.

But, let's put it this way: if the guy is rushing from this jump - okay, let him go and try.

By the way, Mishin was once asked if he didn’t think it was too early to start learning an Axel in three and a half turns or a quadruple jump at the age of 13?

To which he replied: listen, my friends, if the boy wants, and I see that he is ready, why stop him?

Are you more willing to work with boys or with girls?

- With everyone.

I do not separate athletes by gender.

- If the age bar in figure skating for girls is raised, will it change something in coaching, in training technology?

“To be honest, I don’t see any particular problem in this.

Even if this happens, which, by the way, I'm not very sure about, I think we have nothing to worry about.

Because few people will be able to fight with Russian girls anyway.

If you are afraid of aging, you don’t need to do coaching at all.

- That is, a coach is a profession that involves the ability to adapt to anything?

- Let's talk like this: 20 years ago the rules of figure skating changed, and dramatically.

Have we, as coaches, quickly adapted to this?

Yes, lightning fast.

Therefore, I am sure: if tomorrow there is an increase in the age limit in women's single skating, everyone will quickly adapt to this too.

- As far as I remember, you are an ISU technical specialist.

It would be more correct to say, he was.

And, in fact, I was one of the first to pass the ISU exam and got the right to work at competitions in this capacity.

- Why did they stop?

- Let's just say: I saw the judicial theme from the inside, and realized that it's just not mine.

With that in mind, I wanted to ask a question.

Not so long ago, Olympic champion Oleg Vasiliev said that in his view, the current refereeing system is beginning to become very obsolete.

Judges have learned to manipulate the results within the system, and this manipulation becomes a negative that burdens all figure skating.

Do you agree with this point of view?

- Partly.

Let's start by saying out loud that figure skating has never been an objective sport, and never will be.

The judges really understood a long time ago how to manipulate the results, how to arrange the “correct” placement of places.

But I would be talking about something else here.

When the new refereeing system first appeared, a lot of changes were made to it every year.

By rotations, by paths, by this, by this, by the fifth, by the tenth.

We all went crazy, grabbed our heads.

Now these changes are made negligible, and this, in my opinion, is wrong.

There must be some balance.

- Explain?

- Take the same steps.

The track in the short program takes, relatively speaking, 45 seconds, despite the fact that the entire program lasts 160. Why?

To see how the athlete masters the loop and twizzle, or performs the same blocks?

Why did they equate men to women in terms of the duration of the free program, reducing it by 30 seconds and removing one of the jump elements?

To make the skating of athletes cleaner?

This is not happening.

Weaker skaters will still continue to break jumps, regardless of whether there are seven of them in the program, or eight.

- I remember, 30 years ago, after returning from a long tour of Tom Collins, you told me that you can unlearn how to ride extremely quickly.

Does this mean that the athlete is really capable of losing the skill of skating?

- I probably said then that you can very quickly get out of the form that you kept, relatively speaking, preparing for the Olympics.

If you abruptly stop the usual training, the skater really quickly loses the ability to perform ultra-difficult elements.

This is especially true for girls.

But if an athlete initially "rolls" - he will always roll.

- Do you follow how your former mentor works now?

— In one way or another, I follow all the coaches.

In connection with what is the question?

- When Mishin, whom the entire figure skating world calls Professor for a reason, undertook to train Mikhail Kolyada, many believed that Alexei Nikolayevich was such a magician who would touch Kolyada with a magic wand, and he would stop jumping "butterflies".

But it didn't, and I'm trying to figure out why.

- I am already quite an adult comrade and for a long time I do not believe in coaching magic.

As a rule, some kind of visible transformation occurs with an athlete only at the initial stage of work with a new teacher.

And then everything returns to normal, where there is no smell of magic.

A person either works or he doesn't.

Either he has mental toughness or he doesn't.

- It seems to me that the point is also that many athletes sincerely believe that the result should be made by the coach, and not by themselves.

- I will now tell you one story, which, in my opinion, is very cool, although sad, because it is connected with the deceased Denis Ten.

When Denis came to Frank Carroll, a well-known specialist in our world, and went to the first training session, Carroll was sitting at the side and reading the newspaper.

Ten goes out on the ice, drives up to the coach and asks: “Hello.

What should I do?".

He puts the newspaper aside and says: “My dear, I want to ask you: what do you consider it necessary to work on?

It's you who changed the teacher, it's you who want to get something from me.

Here, tell me what it is."

I think it's very cool.

Not the coach should make the result, he can only help in this.

That's all.

- You once said that Mishin always considered returning to the old programs a step backwards.

Now quite often people take old productions for Olympic performances, and I would even say that this has become a trend.

What do you think about it?

- I agree with Mishin on this issue, this is the first. But there is also a second one. A return to the old program is probably justified and there is nothing terrible in it when the athlete and the coach understand the hopelessness of their own situation. That they, figuratively speaking, have a fire, and urgently need to do something. Perhaps few people know, but in the year when Zhenya Plushenko lost the Olympics to Lyosha Yagudin, he and the Professor, in exactly such a fire order, changed the already delivered free program to Carmen. The previous production was somehow massively criticized, including quite influential people in figure skating, Mishin succumbed to this, and this, in my opinion, was a big mistake.

At that moment, we were training with Plushenko on the same ice, and I couldn’t even stand it, drove up to Mishin and asked: “Why?

You and Zhenya have a month before the Olympics, maybe it’s worth just finalizing the program, not paying attention to what they say around, but what’s the point of changing it?

The decision, however, was made.

As a result, Mishin and Plushenko began to devote some crazy amount of time only to “arbitrariness”.

And in Salt Lake City, what should have happened happened: in the short program, Zhenya fell, and this was the end of the fight for the Olympic gold medal for him.

- Once I asked you to make a prediction before the World Cup, and you guessed the names of all the winners.

If I now ask you to do the same before the Olympic Games, will you take it?

— I don’t know if it makes sense to write about it now, everything is too shaky and vague.

Besides, I'm not a fan of predictions at all.

But purely intuitively, it seems to me that Hanyu will not become an Olympic champion for the third time.

- Lose to Nathan Chen?

- I would generally say that some unexpected person, on whom no one is betting now, can become an Olympic champion.

“Like Yuma Kagiyama?”

- May be.

Personally, I would very much like to see Shoma Uno on the Olympic podium.

It seems to me that he finally "made friends" with his own head.

There is another comrade who can "shoot" - this is Vincent Zhou.

All three are from the category of people who are commonly called "dark horse".

— Why do you doubt Chen's chances, can you explain?

Still, for quite a long time, Nathan won all the competitions in which he participated, with a colossal advantage he won the last world championship, breaking away from Hanyu by more than 30 points.

- What happened to him at the Pyeongchang Olympics, remember?

- Certainly.

I think that he himself will always remember his 17th place in the short program.

I even remembered how your older colleague Valentin Nikolaev explained that such things are so firmly stuck in the athlete’s head that it becomes impossible not to think about it at the time of the performance.

Especially when an Olympic gold medal is at stake.

“That's exactly what I mean.

I can only repeat what we talked about at the beginning of the conversation: even the greatest champions do not always manage to win the Olympics.

Although Nathan, like no one else, deserved to be on a podium.